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Analysis

Pheu Thai hoping former Democrat may help with peace talks

Many wars end not because the participants are incapable of further fighting, but because they can see a position from which to negotiate.

This is the correct time for the caretaker government to push for a new dialogue with the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by Suthep Thaugsuban.

However, it remains a troublesome situation for the two sides when their demands and ambitions are not being met.

The PDRC's Bangkok shutdown campaign, which has tried to prove that the Yingluck Shinawatra administration was a "failed government", appeared to become a "failed operation" when the caretaker premier and her Cabinet didn't resign from their posts.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that a rescheduling of the February 2 election was possible, even as the Pheu Thai Party insisted that holding the poll as scheduled was the best way to ease the crisis.

A key member of the Pheu Thai Party, who asked not to be named, said Yingluck and her fellow party members knew the poll would be the end of only the first round of the battle, and would lead to another problem.

So some party leaders tried to make a new secret deal with Suthep to resolve the crisis at the negotiating table, but the proposal has not been responded to.

"We offered to negotiate with Suthep via 'Mr N' - a veteran Democrat Party politician he respected," the source said.

The source said the door for talks had been opened after the Constitution Court ruled the poll could be rescheduled. Two central conditions not currently being achieved would be raised again at the new negotiating table with a "new mediator" and a "new coordinator".

According to caretaker PM's Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn, the conditions were that the PDRC cease its rallies and the Democrat Party would contest the poll.

"We tried to find solutions to end the protests. Suthep could achieve some demands [even though] he failed to oust Yingluck from her position. For example, if the 'People's Council' proposed by the PDRC was implemented in some context, he could claim and declare a 'people's victory'. Meanwhile, the caretaker government would stay out of the spotlight," the source said.

The source added that the permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, Dr Kittipong Kittayarak, could be a coordinator to lead discussions into the idea of a reform council, because he was acceptable to all parties.

Kittipong was the first of the bureaucratic elite to advocate a delayed election, writing on his Facebook page. He also proposed a "neutral forum" made up of people recognised for their impartiality to serve as the start of a dialogue process.

The end result of negotiations is always for the two sides to get something they want. "Now everybody wants reform, including the PDRC and the Democrat Party. So it is [an issue] good for using in negotiation. The election might be postponed on this condition," the source added.

Previously, the Pheu Thai Party planned to use the election results to drive political reform and claimed its voters needed to push support for the Shinawatra family - similar to the way the PDRC protesters fought for the eradication of the "Thaksin regime", according to Pheu Thai's election director Sompong Amornvivat.

He said it was not fair for members of the Shinawatra family if the protesters called for them to get out.

"The [Pheu Thai] party picked Yingluck as the candidate for the next prime minister. She was also named as the party's No 1 party-list candidate in the election. If voters had no need for the Shinawatra family in Thailand, they could vote for the other parties. I need to know what 15 million people, who voted for the Pheu Thai Party in the 2011 election, really wanted," Sompong said.


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